Tag: Environment

Sunday set: Meltdown

Global sea ice at record low

@bberwyn photos
It’s hard to really get your head around what it means that the Arctic ice cap is literally melting away, and perhaps even harder to imagine that massive tracts of Antarctic ice are also giving way to global warming. But the science is pretty clear: During other epochs of Earth’s geological history, at times when there were similar global temperatures and about the same amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, so much ice melted that sea level was at least 20 feet higher than today. Today’s Earth — our Earth — seems to be responding the same way. For all of December, the extent of global sea ice has set record lows every single day.  The Arctic meltdown is well documented by more than 100 years of data. Around the South Pole, more and more studies are showing warm layers of water melting large coastal slabs of ice that hold back the almost unimaginable masses of ice on the Antarctic continent. The images in this set are just snapshots, but what’s happening out there is very real. Take #climateaction now.

Northeastern U.S. warming much faster than global average

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Some parts of the U.S. are warming much faster than the global average.

Study highlights regional climate change hotpsots

By Bob Berwyn

Not all global warming is equal, according to scientists who just published new research on how some areas will warm much faster than others. The study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that the northeastern U.S. is already heating up much faster than the global average and will hit the 2 degree Celsius mark about 20 years before the global average climbs to that level.

“Our study shows that the northeast United States is one of those regions where warming will proceed very rapidly, so that if and when the global target is reached, we will already be experiencing much higher temperatures, with all of the related ecological, hydrological and agricultural consequences,” said Raymond Bradley, a geoscientist at the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “With the signing of the Paris Agreement to try and limit greenhouse gas emissions, many people have been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that the 2-degrees C target is somehow a ‘safe’ limit for climate change.” Continue reading “Northeastern U.S. warming much faster than global average”

GOP tries to shield anti-wolf bill from legal review

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When will the wolf battles end? Photo by USFWS.

Republicans apparently willing to use authoritarian tools in their war on the environment

By Bob Berwyn

The GOP-dominated Congress is flexing its political muscle with legislation that would override the Endangered Species Act by removing federal protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming, making the animals vulnerable to state-regulated trophy hunting and trapping.

This isn’t the first time anti-environmental lawmakers have tried this, but what is new is that, this time, they’re trying to encroach on the longstanding system of checks and balances by passing a law that would prevent new judicial review. Continue reading “GOP tries to shield anti-wolf bill from legal review”

No seismic blasting off East Coast — for now

Obama denies six fossil fuel exploration permits

dolphins Deepwater Horizon spill
The Obama administration has blocked the use of seismic blasting along the Atlantic Coast, helping to protect marine mammals and other ocean animals from harmful noise pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Ocean animals along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. will remain safe from excessive noise pollution at least for the foreseeable future, as President Obama last week moved to deny six permit applications for oil and gas exploration from Florida to Delaware — including requests to use intrusive seismic blasting.

The administration had previously blocked leasing in the area through 2022. The latest decision was greeted with relief by conservation advocates. Obama also recently permanently withdrew 31 canyons in the Atlantic from future oil and gas leasing. Continue reading “No seismic blasting off East Coast — for now”

EU science agency says 2016 was record-warm

Global temperature ratchets up another notch

copernicus_graphics_press-release_en-1Staff Report

Just a few days into the new year, European climate experts confirmed that 2016 is the warmest year on record since humans started tracking the climate. The analysis from  C3S, part of the EU’s Copernicus earth observation program, show that 2016’s global temperature was about 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than typical for the middle years of the 18th century. 2016 was close to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015, which was previously the warmest year on record. Continue reading “EU science agency says 2016 was record-warm”

Study finds 1,000-square-mile contamination footprint from 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster

Satellite view deepwater horizon oil spill
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling operation slicks across the Gulf of Mexico in this 201 photo from NASA.

New data help show how long impacts will linger on seafloor, where pollutants get into the foodchain

Staff Report

Fall-out from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster contaminated more 1,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor, but the exact long-term ecological effects are still unknown, said a group of scientists who are tracking 125 major petroleum hydrocarbons settled to the deep ocean floor when the failed Macondo well discharged 160 million gallons of crude oil into the water.

Their new paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outlines the effort to determine how fast each of those compounds will biodegrade. The data came from a federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the catastrophic oil spill. Continue reading “Study finds 1,000-square-mile contamination footprint from 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster”

Signs of serious global warming impacts piled up in 2016

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2016 is on track to be the third year in a row with a record-warm average global temperature.

There wasn’t any relief from a wave of worrisome global warming news in the spring of 2016, including a study from Harvard showing how rising temperatures will send ozone levels surging to dangerous highs across parts of the U.S.

“In the coming decades, global climate change will likely cause more heat waves during the summer, which in turn could cause a 70 to 100 percent increase in ozone episodes, depending on the region,” said Lu Shen, first author and graduate student at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Even if the president-elect follows through on his threat to cut funding for Earth observation programs, there are other international science agencies that will continue to monitor climate change impacts, including the European Space Agency. In April, data from ESA ice-observing instruments showed that the meltdown of Antactic ice shelves may be irreversible at this point. The thick shelves of ice that sit at the edge of the continent act as breaks on inland glaciers. If the ice shelves vanish, it could mark a point of no return for Antarctica’s ice, the ESA reported. Continue reading “Signs of serious global warming impacts piled up in 2016”